Historic Markers Across Tennessee

The Birth of the City of Oak Ridge, Tennessee

Marker ID:  
Location: City of Oak Ridge Municipal Building, 200 South Tulane Avenue, Oak Ridge, TN
County: Anderson
Coordinates: N 36° 0.742    W 084° 15.478
  36.01236666    -84.25796666
Style: Mounted **
Waymark: None


The Birth of the City of Oak Ridge, Tennessee
Transformation of the Housing

What most branded Oak Ridge as a temporary wartime community was its housing, almost half of which was added in a great rush during 1944-1945 as the town grew to five times the originally planned population of 13,000. Many thousands of the later housing units were prefabricated “flattops”, trailers, and Hutments. Soon after the war, the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) went to work to transform the “Secret City” by replacing those temporary units with permanent homes. The AEC constructed the new Woodland community with 820 housing units, the Garden Apartments with 450 units, and 280 duplexes and dormitories at Gamble Valley. Next, 350 Brick Apartments and 100 row houses were built as a buffer between Woodland and the new town center shopping mall. Some 1,200 temporary dwelling units were renovated and upgraded to last 20 or more years. Despite the welcomed improvements, a 1953 vote on incorporation was heavily defeated, but the AEC was undeterred. The remaining flattops were rehabilitated, adding gable roofs and skirts around their foundations. In East Village 500 new houses replaced all the flattops there, and 400 ranch homes were built in West Village. When Congress passed the Atomic Energy Commission Act of 1955, major programs to upgrade and maintain homes that had been underway since 1948 were halted. Sales of properties began in 1956, and when tenants were offered the chance to buy their rental homes at a discount, they quickly agreed. By June 1958, all but three of Oak Ridge’s 3,526 single-family units had been sold along with 1,280 other properties. The inventory of housing when the AEC took over in 1947 was 9,777 units. By 1960, 5,200 of them remained plus 8,442 new additions, totaling 13,642. The AEC had spent $295 million (in 2010 dollars) to build housing to create a community with a future.

This second marker was produced, in part,
with funding from the City of Oak Ridge and the Preserve American Grant Program, National Park Service.


More information:
Wikipedia - Oak Ridge, Tennessee
Wikipedia - Manhattan Project
Wikipedia - Manhattan Project National Historical Park
US History for Kids - Manhattan Project Timeline
Secret City Commemorative Walk